Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Egyptian court nullifies deal with Saudis about two islands near the Gulf of Aqaba

After the verdict lawyer Khaled Ali reads out the names of the people who are in prison because they demonstrated against the sale of the islands. (Photo Ahdaf Soueif/via Twitter)

Egypt's Administrative Court ruled on Tuesday that the 8 April agreement which placed the two Egyptian Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir in Saudi waters is void. The two islands should remain under Egyptian sovereignty. 
State Council Vice President Yehia El-Dakroury, reasoned that "the islands should remain part of Egyptian territory and within Egyptian borders; Egyptian sovereignty over the islands holds, and it forbidden to change their status for the benefit of any other state." The Egyptian state is going to appeal the conclusion of the court.
The agreement, which was signed by Egypt and Saudi Arabia during a five-day visit by Saudi King Salman to Cairo, stipulated that the two islands at the entrance of the Gulf of Aqaba fall within Saudi waters thus paving the way for a transfer of sovereignty to Riyadh.
Egyptian rights lawyer Khaled Ali and a number of other lawyers had filed a lawsuit with Egypt's Administrative Court at the State Council arguing that Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and Parliament Speaker Ali Abdel Al had wrongfully waived Egyptian sovereignty rights.
Khaled Ali, who appealed the island deal along with a number of other lawyers, based his appeal of the island deal on maritime maps, historical records, legal resolutions and Article 1 of the Constitution, which states that, “The Arab Republic of Egypt is a sovereign state, united and indivisible, of which no part shall be conceded.” The agreement sparked nationwide protests against what was deemed by many as the selling of Egyptian land to Saudi Arabia. The two Red Sea islands have been under Egyptian sovereignty for over 60 years. Over 1,000 people were arrested between April 15 and 27 in connection with protests against the transfer of the islands, The Front to Defend Egyptian Protesters reported.
Lawyer Malek Aly was among those arrested on May 5 for allegedly inciting protests and attempting to overthrow the state. His lawyers have claimed he is being held in solitary confinement and is being subjected to physical and mental abuse. Since the verdict was announced, the hashtag "Tiran and Sanafir are Egyptian" has been trending globally.

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